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The second Republican debate of this month was held on Monday night in Tampa, Florida. Candidates spent much of the night attacking frontrunner Texas governor Rick Perry. Perry defended his controversial views on social security despite attacks from Mitt Romney.
“We have not had the courage to stand up and look Americans in the face” to tell them that “this is a broken system,” Perry said of Social Security in the opening minutes of the debate among eight Republican presidential contenders at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
When asked if he believed states should run social security, instead of the federal government as he proposed in his book last year, Perry skillfully dodged the question. Perry said it was time for “thoughtful conversations with Americans, rather than trying to scare seniors, as you’re doing.” “The term ‘Ponzi scheme’ is what scared seniors,” countered Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
Former Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania criticized Perry for his views on immigration. Perry defended his policy of allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition in Texas. “No matter what the sound of your last name, we believe in you,” he said, drawing some boos from the crowd.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is currently struggling to stay in the race, attacked Perry again for his controversial executive order of requiring the human papilloma virus, or HPV, vaccination for young girls in Texas. “If I had to do it over again, I would have done it differently,” Perry said, saying he should have consulted the Legislature on the issue.
Bachmann suggested that Perry passed the order because of campaign contributions. Perry stated that the pharmaceutical company, Merck, had given him only $5,000 of his $30 million campaign war chest.”If you’re saying I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended,” Perry said. “I’m offended for all the little girls who didn’t have a choice” to receive the vaccine, Bachmann replied.
Other participants tried to maintain relevance in the debate. Romney and Perry debated about who can create the most jobs as president. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out that the government does not create jobs, but that people do. Other participants included former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, and Rep. Ron Paul from Texas.